Viet Nam and UNICEF have a long history of cooperation and trust. Following reunification in 1975, UNICEF launched a nation-wide programme to meet the basic needs of Viet Nam’s girls and boys. It was the first country in Asia and the second in the world to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990 and its rapid social and economic development and impressive progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals have undoubtedly had a positive impact on Viet Nam’s children and adolescents.
But rapid socio-economic change and modernisation can present new and unexpected challenges, especially for women and children. Disparities are widening by ethnicity, location and language. In 2008, it was estimated that as many as one in three children is poor when using a multi-dimensional approach to child poverty. As Viet Nam is now considered a lower middle-income country, UNICEF is working with the Government at different levels to help ensure that these vulnerable children are not left behind and to sustain past achievements in realising child rights.
Since UNICEF’s first days in Viet Nam, the country programme has shifted from emergency response and reconstruction, to meeting basic needs in health and education, to today concentrating on improving social services, while supporting sound policy and an effective legal framework to ensure each one of the country’s 30 million girls and boys can meet his or her full potential.